From having to drive everywhere, to having to drive EVERYWHERE, going out in LA is unlike anywhere else in the US of America, and no one knows it better than Jay Larson, the stand-up who lives on the Westside but has travelled all over the country as the host of Esquire Network's Best Bars in America show. Here are his 10 definitive reasons that going out in LA is just, well, different.
Weird, crazy people live in LA
"And they have great ideas. Seven-course tasting menus in mini amphitheaters with the chefs cooking on stage next to a DJ. Four live performances from magic, to Cirque du Soleil performers, to a two-person operatic/dramatic/Sundance interpretive piece. And that's a 'casual night.'"
We've got more bright-eyed newbies than, like, anywhere else
"Billions of people (fact) move out to LA every month to chase stardom, which means the possibilities are endless... and all the same. We get it: you have big dreams! But, uh, 'til you get told 'no' for three years, I'm probably just going to look at you, milk my drink, and silently judge."
We drive more than anywhere else
"'How do you deal with driving everywhere?' is a question everyone from the East Coast asks. 'Planning, dude' is what everyone here says, idiot. Plan on it taking an hour to get there -- and if you are early, explore. That’s how I found Augustine Wine bar in Sherman Oaks -- I was early for dinner, spotted a cool little spot and had a glass of rose, obviously, because I am a gentleman. Also, that place is awesome."
We've got, by far, the best underground comedy scene in the country
"LA has the best stand-up shows, and, bonus, we like to hide them in back rooms and basements. And it's just as good for comics: the first time I did The Josh & Josh Show, I got to the bar, ordered a vodka martini (it’s at a Russian vodka bar) and waited. Finally one of the Joshes comes up to me and is like, 'you’re on next,' and I was like, 'Where?' He laughed and I followed him out back to an amazingly quaint room where Hannibal Buress happened to be trying out 20 minutes of new material. Bammo."
Your bartender is that guy from Boardwalk Empire
"Seriously. My wife and I were sitting at L&E Oyster Bar and we noticed that our bartender looks familiar. I didn’t want to be that guy so I call over the owner. 'Do I know this guy?' 'He’s on Boardwalk Empire.' And then I became that guy and yelled at him, 'Dude, you play Dean O'Banion on Boardwalk Empire! Awesome! Also, can I get another glass of rosé when you get a chance?'"
You're gonna run into a lot of people who are either 1) super BS, or 2) totally checked out...
"I grew up in Massachusetts where nobody puts on an act for nobody! (I don’t really talk like that.) But seriously, no one in LA tells it like it is... I guess if you don’t want the BS, go to Boston. Or don't. The traffic is terrible."
... but a no-BS bar (or two) does exist
"There are actually a crapload of great dive bars, but for my money, Chez Jay on the Westside is the best in LA. Sinatra used to hang there and not much has changed since then... great jukebox, amazing ambiance, and totally, totally shifty regulars. In other words, its my kind of spot."
Michelin-rated restaurants are not open at 2am... but the best food trucks anywhere are
"Sorry, NY: food trucks rule, fancy places, uh... drool or something? The truth is, we had food trucks before food trucks were cool, which is why you shouldn't just hit up those aioli-on-everything/artisanal green/hand-crafted kale smoothie BS trucks. Find the OG food trucks -- the ones that show up at job sites during the day and feed idiots like me at night, when I'm all stumbly and raiding the crap out of the homemade salsa table."
About half of your friends are never gonna go out with you in the first place
"Westsiders don’t go East, Eastsiders never go West. Period. Sorry. Not gonna happen."
It's not what you know, it’s who you know
"Going out for realzies in LA requires having a friend who owes you a favor, and that friend is friends with the Bungalow bartender, and that bartender hooks the door guy up with drinks for this chick he’s into. (Thanks Paul.) We shot at La Descarga during Season 2 of Best Bars, so I may have at least one of the Houston Brothers' numbers on speed dial. And if I want to make sure I am treated well at Dan Tana's, I roll with my arms dealer buddy and saddle up at the bar with Michael. I may have to drink four or five shots of Slivovitz, but it’s worth it just to hear him say, 'I hate myself' after every shot..."
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Jay Larson is the host of Best Bars in America and a stand-up comic who has appeared on Conan, Carson Daly, and The Late Late Show. You can hit him up at @JayLarsonComedy on Twitter.